Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Sun Keeps The Search for Missing Kids Alive on International Missing Children’s Day



This Saturday proved to be a day of real solidarity for families of missing children across the UK  thanks to The Big Tweet for Missing Children, and the support by Sun readers and celebrities.
As one Twitter user Leah Cunnington wrote, “Our greatest achievements in life have happened when we come together as 1 voice, 1 desire, 2 save even 1 life!”

For the third year, the charity Missing People held our “Big Tweet” and invited the country to get involved. A very simple idea, we tweet a different missing child’s appeal every 30 minutes for 24 hours and ask the public to retweet as many as possible. Our aim in doing so is to raise awareness of just a fraction of the UK’s missing children, and in doing so remind their families living in limbo that people do remember and do care. And that there is hope.

Nobody is left untouched when thinking about a family who has lost a child and Missing People’s Big Tweet enables anyone who uses Twitter to get involved.

Having explained this unique idea to The Sun, they immediately wanted to help and wanted to show their support by laying down a challenge. If we could capture the imagination of the general public and get 50,000 RTs this year then they would donate £10,000 to the charity.

I can assure you, that as a small charity a donation of this size makes a huge difference to our ability to offer a lifeline to when someone disappears. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem – 250,000 people, two thirds of which are children, go missing every year in the UK alone.
It was an ambitious target to say the least, as we had seen just 15,000 retweets last year. However, with The Sun, its readers and celebrities behind us, we felt that we stood a chance of getting close to the target. And, even more importantly, it would be mean we could shine an even stronger spotlight on the 48 missing children whose appeals were to be featured.

Little did we realize, though, the extent to which the wonderful British public would join in solidarity with families of missing children and vote with their fingers.

We were also hugely grateful that many oelebrities with millions of loyal followers - such as Stephen Fry, Victoria Beckham, Tamzin Outhwaite, Katie Price, Lorraine Kelly and many more - got involved. Simon Cowell also pulled out all the stops. He tweeted every single appeal throughout the day and encouraged not only all his 7 million followers, but also his shows and artists such to get involved. 

The stats speak for themselves – the “#BigTweet” hashtag started trending in the UK by mid-morning, and by the end of the day we had an extra 13,695 followers.  Also, we our overall target - the campaign received at least 58,462 retweets on the day. And over 600 people texted a donation to the charity.

We also received sightings and information on 25 May, particularly in relation to one missing child, and some missing people made contact themselves.

And this is why it is such an important campaign, and why we are so grateful to The Sun and its readers for their incredible support. Because thanks to you there are at least 48 families of missing children who feel a little less alone, and feel a little more hope.  ­

By Jo Youle,
Missing people Chief Executive
Follow @JoeyYoule on Twitter for regular updates from our wonderful Chief Exec

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Young people shouldn’t be afraid to contact us…..



Any young person who is away from home or thinking of leaving home can be sure of a confidential, non-judgemental listening ear if they ring the Missing People helpline – we will try to find out what is going wrong for them and how to help them, at least temporarily, and enable them to feel that their anxieties and problems are being taken seriously.   

For some young people it is a flash argument, wrong words spoken, or a lashing out in the heat of the moment.    For others it may be the other end of the spectrum – abuse, neglect or cruelty.    

In any case, and for whatever reason, it is a dramatic move to make, a cry for attention, and it could lead to a young person being vulnerable, at a loss and with few choices to turn to for help.  We will pay attention, and listen and evaluate if they call us on 116 000.

Then, using our skills and experience, try at least temporarily, to ensure that our young caller feels valued, and if possible, that they are able to feel safe. It may be a simple matter of passing a message, it may be supporting them to talk in confidence to a social worker, or if necessary, the police.    

We will dedicate our time to them for as long as it takes to resolve an immediate situation.  And we hope that they won’t need us again, but that if they do, they will know to call us and they will know we will be here twenty four hours a day, to do our best to help.

By Vivian Fowler,
Missing People Services Supervisor
 

Monday, 13 May 2013

A song for the search



1986: tragedy struck at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Maradona led Argentina to victory at the football world cup with a little help from the hand of God and Jessica Ennis and Rafa Nadal arrived in the world. 

The Bangles Walked Like an Egyptian and Robert Palmer was Addicted to Love. In the cinema Ferris Bueller took a day off and Tom Cruise was Top Gun. Women had big hair and Dynasty shoulder pads while men sported the rolled-up jacket sleeves and loafers without socks look in an attempt to turn drizzly England into sizzling Miami. And sixteen year old Kevin Hicks disappeared from his South London home. 

Fast forward twenty seven years and Ukrainians are still suffering the effects from Chernobyl.  Little Jessica grew up to be an Olympic gold medal winner, Tom Cruise is still disconcertingly wrinkle-free and Kevin remains missing. 

It’s because of youngsters like Kevin Hicks and the family and friends he left behind that the Miles for Missing People fundraising event is being held this year on International Missing Children’s Day. Dedicated athletes, novice joggers and fun runners will gather on Clapham Common on 25th May to tackle 10k or 3k races, a poster of missing loved ones pinned to each back. 

Rock Choir will be supporting the event for the fourth year by providing entertainment and motivation for the participants and many choir members will be fundraising and running too. We’ve sung at Wembley Arena and Wembley Stadium, recorded at Abbey Road Studios and broken more than one Guinness World Record but Miles for Missing People holds a special place in our hearts. Perhaps it’s the buzz when everyone joins in the fun with up-tempo numbers like Dancing in the Street or perhaps it’s spotting a tear in the eyes of a face in the crowd as we sing a ballad and knowing that the lyrics have a particular resonance for that person. Perhaps it’s staring at those missing person photographs and wondering why? and where? or listening to the heart-breaking stories of those who have been left behind. 

This year we’ll be singing our hearts out to our latest favourite song, True Colours. Recorded by Cyndi Lauper just a day after Kevin failed to return home in March 1986, the words still have a striking resonance today. 

So this year at Miles for Missing People I’ll be singing for every one of the 250,000 people who go missing each year. But above all when I sing, ‘If this world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear,’ I’ll be thinking of a kid from Croydon who never came home. 


To sign up to take part please visit www.missingpeople.org.uk/miles2013  
To join the search for Kevin Hicks visit
www.missingpeople.org.uk/kevinhicks


Siân has attended every Miles for Missing People event so far!



 

Friday, 10 May 2013

We are family



This is my story of both a personal and professional journey...

In 2010 I took my first walk up the stairs at Missing People. Awaiting me was around 20 staff and volunteers who had gathered to hear me talk about the runaways project I was coordinating at the time. Lucy was in the audience; she had brought in her coffee which she was drinking from a tall blue spotty cup - a habit she maintains to this day and which always makes me smile when we go in to meetings together. Only a year later, I was sat in the same room telling my - now - manager how passionately I believed that I could bring about positive developments in the way the charity works with its partners. Right before that interview, while nervously waiting in reception, a nice man called Richard had come to check that someone had made me a cuppa (they had). Richard still offers me tea every day.

It hadn't occurred to me until I started working at Missing People that I'd had my own personal experience of 'missing'. Twelve years previously on a cold November evening, my grandad, while in hospital and suffering with dementia, had wandered off in the evening wearing only his pajamas. He was headed back to the home he had shared with my grandma. He made it to within half a mile before, at 11pm, he was spotted by a local person who worked at the hospital and happened to know him. He kindly took my granddad back to his ward. A short while later he was safe and warm back in his bed. It never fails to focus my mind when I think how things could have been different; a prospect I've talked through with several of my police colleagues when asking them to make links between their own loved ones and their interactions with families during a missing person investigation. 

Two years on, and my loved ones still feature regularly in my presentations to practitioners. There's the story about when my mum met me at London Victoria station for a day out in the big smoke; she’s always interested to hear about the nature of my work and, ten minutes in, she asked 'what would have happened if you hadn't shown up today and I’d contacted the police?’. There's also the time my sister called me from a shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon and said 'I've lost Doug'. Doug was sat in the sunshine about a mile away, out of phone signal and blissfully unaware of his panicked girlfriend whom he thought would be shopping for at least half the day. Six hours later, after the tears of relief and a tense drive home from town she called me and in a chillingly quiet voice said “that's how it starts isn't it?” 

My mission is to help practitioners understand our services through my own and other people's stories. It is my privilege to be doing that for a charity so well grounded in its values. As a Services Manager with particular responsibility for partnerships, my role is varied. I hop between presentations to a hundred police and social workers to meetings with the UK Missing Persons Bureau and CEOP to plan our input at training events or consultations with government, local statutory services or other charities.  I thrive upon building relationships between organisations that work in such different ways. It’s quite normal for police to have some misconceptions about the charity sector - the furrowed brows of dubious police officers filling a lecture theatre still puts my nerves to the test. A swig of Evian and two deep breaths later and the simplicity of it all takes over me. Ultimately, despite wildly different working practices there is always a common ground; a point on which we can relate. It's my responsibility to illustrate that point and unite us under a common objective. 

And then there's the Missing People Cycle Challenge; 500 miles in five days. I'm not giving too much thought to the size of the challenge as an amateur cyclist, with an ill-equipped bike and limited experience of long distance cycling! It wouldn't fit with my motto to shy away: "if it scares you, do it anyway". I have never ridden ‘clipped in’. Moreover, less than six months ago I didn’t even know what that meant! For the benefit of any fellow amateurs, I will explain; it means you are attached by your feet to the bike’s pedals. It means if you don’t ‘clip out’ (‘unclip’? I’m also lacking the lingo...) quickly when you stop then you and your bike will topple sideways and something gets bruised or maybe even bleeds – ‘gulp’. I’m told that being clipped-in will increase efficiency and my ‘effort to output ratio’. This is all a bit technical for me; I really would just like to make it unscathed from Edinburgh to London (bigger ‘gulp’). 

The most wonderful thing about the whole experience will be what it represents to me. By taking on a physical challenge I feel I am, symbolically, standing side by side with fellow humans who are facing their own challenge. Family is my lifeblood (both literally and metaphorically), so dedicating myself to a cause which supports family members when someone goes missing – whether they are missed or missing someone – feels like I have found my calling. And what’s more, when I cross that finish line I will have two families waiting for me; my loved ones and the Missing People family. 

Written by Missing People Partnerships Manager Karen Robinson,





Around 250,000 people go missing in the UK each year. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

Written by families and friends of missing people, supporters working to raise awareness of the cause, and volunteers and staff at the charity Missing People, we hope that this blog will offer a window into the issue of missing.

The charity Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. To find out more about Missing People and ways that you can support the charity visit www.missingpeople.org.uk.

Call or txt the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.